The Indian Government is planning to increase the size of pictorial warnings on the packages of tobacco products in the country.
This comes after former chairman of the Indian Parliamentary Committee of Subordinate Legislation Dilip Gandhi and a member of the panel Shyam Charan Gupta, made statements questioning the link between tobacco products and cancer.
Last October, the country's health ministry announced plans to push tobacco companies to ensure health warnings cover 85% of the surface of packs, up from 20% now, Reuters reported.
However, this proposal was stalled as the parliamentary panel investigates how the changes in packaging would affect the industry's revenues and its workforce.
Health and family welfare union minister JP Nadda said: "There is a direct relation between the consumption of tobacco and cancer. The ministry is consistent and crystal clear in its efforts to reduce tobacco consumption. We will go ahead once the panel submits its report."
When effective, the new regulation will also be applicable to foreign cigarettes.
Voluntary Health Association of India official Seema Gupta said: "The warnings currently are very weak.
"The delay will lead to an increase in the number of tobacco users."
Reuters reported the government had previously announced that up to 900,000 people in the country die annually due tobacco-related diseases.
The International Tobacco Control Project estimates that this could increase to 1.5 million by 2020, if people continue to consume tobacco.
Image: The Indian Government is planning to increase the size of pictorial warnings on the packages of tobacco products in the country. Photo: courtesy of Mister GC via freedigitalphotos.